10 Under 10: The Best Boutique Hotels

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Need a retreat where everybody knows your name? Giant resorts can sometimes feel institutional, so why not go small. The past five years have seen an explosive growth in boutique hotels, from the Spanish Steps in Rome to the shores of Virginia to the upcountry ranches of Hawaii. We've searched the world for 10 of the best gem-like hotels, each under 10 rooms, with stylish interiors, ultra-personalized service, and a very exclusive guest list (and, yes, some high prices). Though petite, these independent hotels are chock full of personality, boasting top-notch amenities. The only downside? You'll probably feel guilty leaving wet towels on the floor, since you'll be on a first name basis with the staff.

Best Boutique Hotels

Cape Charles Blue

10. Cape Charles Blue, Cape Charles, Virginia
From $200
Just steps away from the beach on Virginia's tranquil Eastern Shore, Cape Charles Blue's six suites could be called apartments in many parts of the country, at a whopping 700 square feet each. With exposed brick walls, chocolate leather club chairs, and fully stocked kitchens, the newly opened hotel is a home for romantic weekends and family beach blowouts. Outdoorsy travelers flock to the Chesapeake Bay for its verdant wildlife, with fishing, kayaking, rowing and birding excursions all available through the hotel.

Best Boutique Hotels

Little Arches Hotel
9. Little Arches Hotel, Barbados
From $205
This three-story jewel box of a hotel was once a private villa and is now the best kept secret on Barbados. On a hideaway bay, just behind the talcum powder sands of Enterprise Beach, Little Arches might feel like your own private 10-bedroom house. And if it were, your taste would be impeccable: pink stucco walls with Italianate tiles and saturated blue upholstery stand against gauzy white curtains billowing in a Caribbean breeze. The hotel owner is also the chef and Café Lune, the rooftop restaurant is one of the best on the island. Barbados Travel Deals

Best Boutique Hotels

Rooftop terrace; Casa Maria

8. Casa Maria, San Miguel Allende, Mexico
From $253
Everything has charm in this 16th-century colonial town, but nowhere more so than the pink stucco Casa Maria. The six rooms are individually decorated in a traditional Mexican baronial style, with wooden four-poster beds, Oaxacan tapestries, black clay pottery, original 17th-century doors, and folk art and handicrafts from nearby artisans. The rooftop garden terrace has spectacular views of one of Mexico's prettiest cities, and the quaint, shady garden is abundant with bougainvillea. Book This Hotel | San Miguel Allende Travel Deals

Best Boutique Hotels

View from roof garden; Il Palazzetto

7. Il Palazzetto, Rome, Italy
From $347
Overlooking the Spanish Steps, Il Palazzetto offers four of the most striking hotels rooms deep in the heart of Rome -- and three of them have views over the Steps. A restaurant and international wine academy occupy the first two floors of a 16th-century noble's palace, while the hotel's rooms consume the top floors -- all, that is, except for the lush roof garden, which offers the most romantic al fresco spot for cocktails in the eternal city. With lush silks and velvets, marble floors, and oversized beds, the Palazzetto has a way of making any visitor feel like royalty. Guests also have full use of the nearby Hotel Hassler's amenities, including the concierge services and the spa -- giving you all the benefits of a big luxury hotel with all the tailored attention of a boutique. Rome Travel Deals

Best Boutique Hotels

6. Geejam
, Jamaica
From $495
When No Doubt took home a Grammy for their last album, band-member Gwen Stefani gave a shout-out to a little-known Jamaican hotel. That's because Geejam, a 10-minute drive from Port Antonio, is where solitude-seeking stars such as Björk and India.Arie go to relax and use the hotel's recording studio. Nestled in the jungle, the Geejam has one suite, three cabins, and a private 3-bedroom villa that are all rock-star posh with gleaming white walls and private patios overlooking azure Caribbean waters. And you don't have to be a Grammy winner to lay down some tracks: All guests can book a session at the fully equipped professional studio. The hotel will set up a creative meeting to help you decide on the artistic requirements -- from back-up vocals to instruments -- and will even provide songwriters. Jamaica Travel Deals

Best Boutique Hotels

The Inn at Dos Brisas

5. The Inn at Dos Brisas, Washington, Texas
From $480
This 300-acre Arabian horse farm has all the activities of a great Texas dude ranch -- fly fishing, horseback riding, skeet shooting, and mountain biking. But it's the organic farm that supplies the seasonally oriented restaurant, one of the finest in the country, that makes the Inn At Dos Brisas a true standout. After a day on the range, guests can also attend wine tastings and gourmet cooking classes. The four Spanish-style casitas are amazing as well, with high-beamed ceilings, fireplaces, and French doors opening onto a patio with views of gently rolling farmland and fields of wildflowers.

Best Boutique Hotels

4. Waianuhea, Big Island, Hawaii
From $210
For the upcountry Hawaiian hotel of your dreams, drive along the Big Island's Hamakua coast to the Waianuhea. This off-the-grid resort is sustainably green, its power is solar generated and they ditched the built-in hot tub in favor of ones that were less power consumptive. (The old hot tub is now a lily pond filled with frogs and lotus flowers.) The five rooms are Hawaiian chic, accented in tropical fruit colors and decorated with local materials such as Kamani (mahogany) and Koa (acacia) hardwoods. There is a complimentary wine tasting in the evenings and morning breakfasts include organic food from the rich agricultural region of the Big Island's windward shores along with Ahualoa coffee. Big Island Travel Deals

Best Boutique Hotels

Bravo Beach Hotel

3. Bravo Beach Hotel, Vieques, Puerto Rico
From $190
The beachfront boutique on Puerto Rico's sleepy Vieques Island is an adults-only paradise. The former home of a sugar baron, the nine rooms (there's also a separate villa) are all stylishly white-on-white, with Frette linens and Philippe Starck fixtures. The rooms are stocked for all your leisure needs, including with yoga mats, Sony PlayStation 2, iPod docks and one of Vieques' only reliable WiFi signals. The BBH restaurant is also an island hotspot.

Best Boutique Hotels

The Keefer
2. The Keefer, Vancouver, British Columbia
From $600
A former warehouse in Vancouver's Chinatown got a complete designer overhaul and is now the city's swankiest new boutique hotel. The four 2,400-square-foot, loft-style suites have two bedrooms each and are a fantasy of urban luxury. Each suite occupies its own floor and comes with a European-designed kitchen, a dining area for 10, original art by Douglas Coupland, private patios and cavernous bathrooms that would put any spa to shame. Reserve the penthouse for Vancouver's only glass-bottomed rooftop pool and a 2,400-square-foot deck with city and mountain views. Vancouver Travel Deals

Best Boutique Hotels

Algodon Mansion

1. Algodon Mansion, Buenos Aires, Argentina
From $400 (opening rate through December 2010)
Algodon Mansion opened in August 2010, catering to the international stylistas who flock to this fashion capital. And they love it's location in the exclusive Recoleta, a tree-lined neighborhood with art galleries, designer boutiques and charming cafes. The six-story Belle Époque hotel has 10 lavish suites that overlook either an interior waterfall or a shady residential street. The suites are all done up in sophisticated neutrals and have Italian marble bathrooms, plus individual touches (think baby grand pianos). Algodon vineyards supplies the wine and the spa has wine-themed Vine Therapy treatments. After your treatment, retire to the roof deck pool. Buenos Aires Travel Deals

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